Monday, 24 August 2015

Swamp Thing, Volume 6: The Sureen Review (Charles Soule, Jesus Saiz)

Like a dictator, Swamp Thing/Alec Holland has destroyed the Parliament and become sole ruler of the Green. Amidst the destruction, he saved three former avatars: Jonah, Wolf, and Lady Weeds, all of whom have now become human for the first time in centuries - and some are definitely not pleased with this arrangement. But Swampy’s about to discover that being absolute ruler isn’t absolutely easy as problems arise across the globe. Enter the Sureen, a holy order whose sole purpose is to attend to the needs of the Avatar of the Green – but there’s more to this group than meets the eye… 

Man alive, this was a boring comic! I haven’t loved Charles Soule’s Swamp Thing run but it’s been decent – Volume 6, though? Complete and utter snoozefest. Almost all of this book is the cast of characters standing in a field talking about things that’ve already happened and things they’d like to see happen. And there’s so much dialogue to wade through, it’s like a Golden/Silver Age comic! 

The Sureen storyline is extremely dull as it turns into an archetypal search/rescue mission. I’m not even sure it makes sense. Does Alec have a “main body”? I thought he appeared around the world using various plants to form his “body”. He’s more of a spirit than a physical presence, isn’t he? This storyline though seems to think Alec’s “main body” is the key to his powers when I thought it was much more abstract and that the bodies were temporary shells. In some respects, Soule’s added a lot of richness to Swamp Thing’s world; in others, he’s made it much more simplistic and less magical. 

There’s a brief two-issue crossover with Aquaman as they battle a seaweed monster – the usual fighting crap – with Arthur inadvertently forced into the position of commander of an overzealous American military-type. What is it with Soule and totalitarian elements in this book? I’m not a huge Aquaman fan and this crossover read as blandly as the other parts of the book did. 

That’s about it really. Lady Weeds and Wolf are up to no good but it takes them 8 issues(!) to get from point A to point B and it’s as underwhelming as I’d feared. The end couldn’t come fast enough for this tediousness to end! 

The best part was definitely the artwork. I loved the sequence where Swampy sprouts wings and goes to Capucine in the Nevada salt flats – all that blue and white, and wonderful use of space looked utterly gorgeous! The various Swamp Thing forms are always a highlight too. Seaweed Swamp Thing was awesome and I loved the kid version of him he creates as a safeguard portal near his classic Louisiana mansion. The Avatar of the Grey is a fascinating design too. 

I appreciate that Soule’s writing is thoughtfully adding dimensions to Swamp Thing’s world but it sorely needed to accompany a worthwhile story as well. The art team do good work but the overall dreariness of the script turned The Sureen into an unrewarding slog to get through.

Swamp Thing, Volume 6: The Sureen

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